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El Paso, Border Town and So Much More

Greetings from the Leiter’s and a Holt in Las Cruces! We have really been enjoying the desert climate. Dry air with warm days and cool nights. Monday it rained almost the entire day which is very unusual for here this time of year. This also suppose to be the windy season. We get some gust upwards of 20 MPH to 30 MPH in the afternoon, but nothing what normally happens this time of year. Many of the HAM operators keep talking about by now the area should have had a few dust storms. We, of course are thankful for the slack windy season this year.

Last Sunday Bradley, Dianne, and myself gave talks at church. We enjoyed the opportunity to share something from the gospel and share our testimonies. Bradley had his Board of Review for Life Scout on Sunday. He has exactly 6 months to get Eagle. We shall see….

Mid-March we went to El Paso to visit the El Paso Zoo and The Border Patrol Museum. The Zoo is like two blocks from the border crossing between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The contrast between the American Side and The Mexican Side is like night and day. You can see the poverty in the structures. The building standards in Mexico are obviously much more lenient than America. Ciudad Juarez is off-limits to Military Personal. The gang and drug cartel violence is extremely high. And then factor in corrupt police agencies and you can see why it is off-limits. Americans are high dollar targets and kidnappings do occur. We stopped at a Wal-Mart about 1/2 mile from the border. It was amazing how little English I heard. Many of the cars in the parking lot were from Mexico. And the stuff they were buying in large quantities ramen, fresh produce, rice just to name a few. The dangers and issues on the border are everything they say they are.

The El Paso Zoo was really cool. They have 3 areas Americas, Asia, and Africa. They had all kinds of animals to see.

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We had a great time. I never took Brad to the zoo before. So like a good dad I bought him a stuffed wolf. He was so happy!!!

After the Zoo we went to the Border Patrol Museum. A little background, the Border Patrol was created in El Paso, Texas. Many agents have lost their lives in securing our border with Mexico. There are over, I believe, 4000 total agents. only 300 agents cover the entire northern border. The balance of agents are on the Southern Border. And they cannot keep up.

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Until next time my friends, stay classy!!!!

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To all our followers, our apologizes

We have been very neglectful of our blog site. To all of you that follow us we offer our sincerest apologizes. We have done a lot here in Las Cruces, New Mexico since we have arrived. I will spend the next week catching y’all up on our adventures to date.

The road between San Antonio and El Paso Texas is long and desolate. There are the remains of towns, run down towns, and some thriving towns. These towns live and die by the oil and natural gas industry that creates them. With crude being so low per barrel, more and more of these towns are suffering. It made for a long and less than exciting ride.

We have finally set up the Gypsy Caravan Wagon. One of our upcoming blogs will be a picture tour of the homestead. We are very pleased with our purchase. The RV life is SOOO much better than the ‘Extended Stay Hotels’. The dogs love the freedom of the RV Park and it’s dog run.

Southern New Mexico has a thriving Pecan industry. I thought Georgia had it going on, but these cats have amazing Pecan Orchards and it is all watered by well and river collection. Not much rain falls here, so they count on a good snow melt up North and in Colorado to fill the Rio Grande River for a brief amount of time.

I grew up in what I thought was dairy farm country, and by all practical standards it is. But right outside of Las Cruces, NM, along I-10, is a massive dairy farm operation. The farm stretches for miles and probably has 60,000 plus head of dairy cows. Of course if the wind is blowing right, travel along I-10 can be quite “fragrant” to say the least. If you travel south toward the Mexico border you find numerous dairy farm operations. Quite a site in this desert oasis.

Shortly after we got here we made a weekend trip to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit with Chris and his friend Jaden. We also got to be a part of our adopted son Steven’s Priesthood Confirmation. It was an awesome quick trip. The trip to Utah was interesting. We traveled through several Federal Indian Reservations. Everyone had a casino or casinos. These casinos employ many of the residents of the reservation. You see many Native Americans walking. Many of the homes you see our run down mobile homes. There seemed to be lots of places to buy alcohol and cigarettes. Many of the Native Americans you see look broken and tired. I will let you form your own opinions on how a once prideful people has come to this.

Anyway, keep an eye out for more blog posts very soon. We have been to the border, the El Paso Zoo, Border Patrol Museum and some other great places to tell you about. Tons of pictures to share as well!!

Until next time, be safe!!!

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Las Cruces, The Leiter Clan Have Arrived!

We made it!! We arrived in the evening on Sunday, January 25, 2015. Dianne started work the next day. We cut it close waiting on the RV and unfortunately left without it. Brad and I went back on Tuesday and drove back on Wednesday with our brand new RV. We traveled over 1600 miles over 4 days. I was pretty worn out. We own a 28′, 2015 Homestead Prowler. The camper has one slide out, bunk beds and a master bedroom. The trailer is light and rides very nicely behind the truck. The truck does not like the trailer and has expressed its displeasure by cutting our gas mileage down to 7 – 9 MPG. My Jeep Wrangler gets better MPG than that!!! With the slide out. the dogs have more room than the hotel/motel rooms we have stayed in. Plus we bought some kennel fencing so the dogs have a little place outside to hangout with us. A bonus here is this RV Park, Hacienda RV Park, has a fenced area for dogs to run off leash. It is nice to be able to sit outside and enjoy the sun or moon. If I wanted to sit outside anywhere else on our journey it would have been in a parking space! I will post pics and more on the RV once we finish getting everything set up!

Dianne is very happy with this facility so far. They seem much more organized than the last location and have worked with traveling nurses for a while. She spent the first week shadowing and doing small things. She did not start orientation until this past Monday, today is her last day of orientation. She is on call this Friday night.

Traffic here is much lighter than San Antonio. Getting around here is very easy. Las Cruces is not a big town, maybe about the same size as Augusta, Georgia without the craziness. We are enjoying the desert weather, clear and 70’s during the day and star lit and 40’s at night. The dogs are having to adjust to minimal grass. The RV Park has places of grass, but not a bunch. We also have a beautiful view of the Organ Mountains. I am hoping to take the Jeep exploring next week. Lots to see here. And lots of places to wheel the Jeep.

Until next time……..

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Cedar Fever!!!

Well, we are finally leaving for Las Cruces, New Mexico. Driving up on Sunday and Dianne starts work on Monday. We had planned to be out of here on Tuesday, but…… We will cover that later.

We have had allergy problems since we got here. Brad never has problems with allergies. Well Cedar Pollen will mess you up! We all are looking forward to getting out of this Cedar haven!!!! The locals here call it “Cedar Fever”!!

We took a trip to Corpus Christie, Texas. I was not impressed. Don’t get me wrong the beach area is nice. They have a small downtown of skyscrapers. Outside of that it was places for oil and gas field workers to live. The highlight was taking the tour of the USS Lexington aircraft carrier. I have never been on a naval vessel before. WOW!! That was really a neat experience. I will have some pictures at the end of the blog. As we were leaving Corpus Christie we drove a different route home. It routed us through the windmill fields. I have never seen such a sight. Dianne and Brad made fun of me because of my reaction. But honestly it was really cool. Hundreds of windmills generating energy.

Last weekend we got a craving for home and drove about an hour to the Waffle House in Austin, Texas. Ain’t nothing in the world like a chicken sandwich plate; scattered, smothered, and covered!! And of course the waffle!! We miss Waffle House. On the way back we stopped at the Tanger’s Outlet and did a little shopping for our RV (Travel Trailer) and I got some new Crocs.

So we are purchasing an RV. We are buying a brand new, 28 foot travel trailer with one slide out. The small motel rooms have gotten OLD. RV parks offer so many amenities and have places for the dogs to run. Plus I can sit outside and enjoy myself.

Dianne Johnson Leiter's photo. Master Bedroom

Dianne Johnson Leiter's photo. Bunk Beds

Dianne Johnson Leiter's photo. Overview of inside

So the RV purchase leads us to why we are leaving so late in the week. We decided to withdraw the funds from Dianne’s retirement to purchase the RV. No payments means no headaches!! Two plus weeks ago we started the process to obtain the funds. We faxed in the appropriate paperwork and waited……and waited……. and did not receive the funds. She called and they told her that there was a problem with the paperwork and she had to resubmit it. She asked them why they did not call and let us know. They said they do not call but send a letter, nice! So we resubmitted the paperwork. Then an unusual snow event hit parts of Texas. Amarillo, Texas got 12 inches of snow and shut down for a day or two. Guess where her request gets processed and the funds get released to our bank account from. Yup, Amarillo, Texas!! We waited as long as we could. Brad and I will come back and get the RV next week when the money arrives. Murphy’s Law was written for us.

This week Brad got to experience Joe’s Crab Shack. He truly enjoyed the experience.

Robert Leiter's photo.

Friday was National Pie Day. We went to Marie Callender’s for lunch and had a slice of pie!!! And they had all pies half price………yes we bought a whole pie!!!

Until next time from Las Cruces………

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Happy New Year from San Antonio, Texas!!!

The New Year is here. We celebrated the bringing in of 2015 with a bang!! Ok, Dianne and I watched the local news station coverage of the huge party in downtown San Antonio. Looked like a mini Time Square. Party goers were everywhere!! Brad was invited to the Stake Presidents house for a little partying Mormon style! The highlight for him was the hot tub…..then the group jumping into the cold pool….then back in the hot tub….then back in the pool. Young people…. Of course Brad came down with the flu a few days later. Hmmm, wonder why? Dianne and I have managed to avoid it thus far. Hopefully we will avoid the flu bug this year.

We finally had the opportunity to eat authentic Mexican food. There is definitely a difference between authentic and “Tex-Mex” like most Mexican restaurants back in Georgia serve. We also bought a few things from the Mexican bakery. The sweat treats are different as well. Truly enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere at the restaurant. If you are ever in San Antonio I highly recommend Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery. They are open 24 hours for convenience. http://www.mitierracafe.com/home.php

We have been enjoying the LOWER gas prices here in Texas. I filled up the Jeep yesterday for $1.79 a gallon. I know it will not last, but I am most certainly enjoying it while I can.

We have two weeks left here in San Antonio. Dianne’s next 13 week contract has us bound for Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces is about 35 mile Northwest of El Paso Texas, which means it is 35 miles from the Mexico border. Should be exciting!

We have been RV shopping. We are looking for a good used RV that we can pull behind the truck. The extended stay motels are nice, but we can save money by owning a RV. It will give the dogs more room, us more room, and not have to actually pack every 13 weeks. We will see how are shopping goes.

Tomorrow we are going to Corpus Christi, Texas. Dianne has been wanting to go since we got here. we have been told the port area is beautiful. It will be my first time seeing the Gulf of Mexico. Look for a blog update with pictures in the coming days.

Until next time……..

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Christmas ROCKED!!!!

Seasons Greetings!! The New Year is just about upon us. Where does the time go? I remember my Nana telling me once that the older you get the faster the time goes. I thought she was just crazy, boy was I wrong.

Christmas was different for us this year. This is the first Christmas we were not around some element of extended family. It was just Dianne, the boys, and myself. It was quite relaxing to say the least. No hurrying to get things done for this social event, panicking to get stuff prepped and the house ready for family, and going crazy trying to get everything done by Christmas!!! Do not get me wrong, we truly missed spending time with our families. And those of you that know me know I truly missed the food!!! But it was also nice to just have each other and enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If my daughter and Steven could have been here it would have been perfect.

Speaking of my daughter my Christmas present from her was the gift of life. Malia and fiancé Steven are expecting their first. So it appears that Dianne and myself will be entering the world of Grandparents in July 2015. It is exciting but scary at the same time. More to come on this as we get closer to the time.

Christmas Dinner!! There is a chain restaurant here called Luby’s. It is cafeteria style eating. Besides their usual selections, they had prime rib and these massive pork chops Christmas Day. We enjoyed a fine meal and pies to die for. Probably as close to home cooking as one could find.

We went down to the river walk Christmas Night. BEAUTIFUL!!! Very tranquil, yet at the same time, lots of energy. There were some establishments open, one with a live venue, and people everywhere.

On Christmas Eve morning I took a container of some homemade goodies and mini candy canes to the front office for the management and staff here. Many of the staff have thanked us personally. We attached the Christmas.Mormon.Org pass along card to the candy canes. This card had information about the true meaning of Christmas and info on going to the website and viewing a wonderful Christmas video.

Enjoy the Pictures below. They tell the whole story!

We are down to just 3 weeks left here in San Antonio. We will leave here on the 20th of January for Las Cruces, New Mexico. We have a few things we want to do here before we leave. So we will be working on that list and posting pictures here soon.

Until next time, stay excellent my friends………

Skyping with family on Christmas Eve

Skyping with family on Christmas Eve

The Christmas Eve Feast Part 1

The Christmas Eve Feast Part 1

Christmas Eve Feast Part 2

Christmas Eve Feast Part 2

Da Presents!!!!

Da Presents!!!!

Merlin with his new toy that Santa brought him!!!

Merlin with his new toy that Santa brought him!!!

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

The 3 Amigos on the Riverwalk

The 3 Amigos on the River Walk

More of the Riverwalk

More of the River Walk

Crazy people of San Antonio.....

Crazy people of San Antonio…..

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And here we are….Christmas Eve!

Been  a few weeks since we updated the blog! Thanksgiving was awesome. We learned a lot about our next stop Las Cruces, New Mexico. Really sounds like there is some cool stuff to do and see there, especially if you own a Jeep!!! Got our room reserved at the Motel 6. They have some rooms with a kitchenette. We really like the Extended Stay America franchise, but there is not one there. We will survive.

Not much has happened the last few weeks. Still home schooling Brad. He can be hard-headed at times. Then again, so can I. He gets it naturally! 🙂  He is doing well in all his subjects. He still struggles some with math, but he is improving.

Have done a bunch of Christmas shopping the last couple of weeks. Hoping to start shipping boxes to our family this next week or so. Still waiting on a few items to be delivered. Kids stuff has been bought and just waiting for tomorrow morning. Chris flew in last night……around 11:05 PM…..long story, he was supposed to be here at 1PMish. He flies home on Friday, so a short visit. Las Cruces is about an 10 to 11 hour drive from Chris so we may be able to see more of him during the 13 weeks we are there.

If you have not viewed this great video, http://www.mormon.org/christmas please do so. It is just another great reminder of why we celebrate Christmas. He is the reason. Just as we give thoughtful gifts to each other, our Father in Heaven gave us a great gift so many years ago. I know with surety that Jesus IS our Lord and Savior.

Until next time…..

Merry Christmas!!!

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WOW!! Where does the time go!!

Cannot believe we have been in Texas for 7 weeks already! We have been having a blast. Dianne has signed her next contract. We will be going to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces is about 35 miles North of the Mexican/Texas border at El Paso. Las Cruces is close to several ghost towns and White Sands. Roswell – UFO Capitol – is also close by. And the wheeling near Las Cruces is off the chain. We are looking forward to taking the Jeep out playing a good bit while we are there.

We have been invited to join a family from church for Thanksgiving. We are looking forward to that. Her daughter and family are coming in for Thanksgiving. They live in Las Cruces. We are looking forward to meeting them and getting some information on Las Cruces.

We tried a local burger place that has been voted best in San Antonio several times. Chester’s is a good homemade burger. Their fries and onion rings are both the bomb. But it is their shakes that are the hit. Most shakes are made with about 4% milk fat, these shakes are made with 12% milk fat. Brad truly enjoyed the shake saying it is really rich and creamy.

Brad has made several friends at church. He has been enjoying the Ward. He is only one of a couple Priest’s age young men. He has already taught his Sunday School class, picked the music and conducted the music for a Bishop’s Youth Discussion, aka Fireside, and has been asked to give a talk during church this Sunday. He is quite the popular one!!!!

Chris was here a couple of weeks ago for a visit. He got introduced to Texas BBQ, visited the Alamo, visited the San Antonio Temple, and got to relax for a week. The pictures below are from that visit. It was great seeing him. He may be flying in for a few days over Christmas if we can work out the dollars.

Brad is doing well with his school studies. He still struggles with Algebra, but I think it is all starting to make sense. We shall see. Being a teacher is hard work. Preparing tests, quizzes, reading over material to discuss with him……. It is definitely keeping me busy. But truth be told, I am enjoying the time I am spending with him. He is a pretty cool dude to hang out with.

Dianne’s work keeps her fairly busy. Most of her “10 hour” days are more like 11 or 12 hour days. She stays busy as the work is constant. She is enjoying her coworkers and is enjoying learning how other hospitals do things differently. She is off for Thanksgiving Day and has call on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Until next time……….

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The Alamo – Sacred Ground

We have visited the Alamo twice since coming to San Antonio. First it is not what you would expect to see. It is a very simple historical place. But in its simplicity is history. Rich, vibrant history. Construction on the Mission began in 1724. There is not much of the original structure left of the original Alamo, some walls of the Long Barracks and the walls of the Church/Mission building. But the feeling there is unlike anything you can feel. The Alamo sits in the middle of downtown San Antonio, Texas. Outside the walls is the usual hustle and bustle one would feel in a big city. But once you step inside the walls, the outside world seems to disappear. Less than two hundred men, from all across the country, defended the Alamo for 13 days against a massive Mexican Army. Women and children that remained took shelter in the Church Building. By sunrise on the 13th day it was over, and Santa Ana of the Mexican Army entered the Alamo to view his conquest. If you are ever in Texas, be sure to schedule a couple of hours to visit the Alamo. It is a place you will not forget.

Alamo SIgn

Gift from Japan given to the Alamo

Gift from the Japanese Government.

Gift from Japan

Gift from Japanese Government

Showing the bullet marks from a .38 caliber revolver. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, people requested that this gift be removed. When it was not, someone came and shot the stone.

Replica of Alamo

Front of Mission Building

Front of Mission Building at night

Dianne and Brad beside an Original Well

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Dianne, Brad, and Chris on Alamo Plaza

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My How Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!!!

Happy Sunday Afternoon to all of my family and friends!!! As promised earlier this week I am posting all the news worthy stuff of the last couple of weeks, Starting with October 13…..

October 13 was Brad’s 17th Birthday!!! I cannot believe my little buddy, the Bradster, Bradman, my little Rutabaga Head is 17!!! We started the day out with lunch, Cajun Style, at Bourbon Street Seafood Kitchen. He got a little surprise for desert!

Brad and Mom 17th Bday Birthday Surprise

After lunch, we did some Birthday shopping with the Birthday Boy. We topped the evening off at Freddy’s for some frozen custard!!

Brad Custard 17th Bday Dad Custard 17th Birthday

On October 18 we went to Austin, Texas for a thirty-one Bags meeting. It was at a Texas BBQ place. We got our first taste of Texas BBQ. BBQ in Texas is NOT pulled/chopped pork, but beef brisket. I have to say I was quite impressed with the flavor and tenderness of the brisket. I can see myself enjoying some more of that while we are here.

Dianne started work on October 20. She is working at Christus Santa Rosa Hospital. She spent most of the week in-processing and learning about her work area. While she is at work Brad and I have our student/teacher relationship. It has been fun, and at the same time challenging, being his Home School Teacher.

Bright and early on October 25 I attended the Concealed Handgun License Class and Qualification for my Texas non-resident CHL Permit. I had a really great time and truly enjoyed meeting some Awesome people.

October 25 and 26 was Stake Conference for the church here. We got to hear some spiritually uplifting talks and here some wonderful music. On Sunday afternoon Brad attend the Youth Fireside with one of the General Authorities with the church. He seemed to enjoy that a great deal.

Then Monday October 27 in the early afternoon I get a call from Dianne. She had been rushed from her work area to the ER. Apparently she about or did pass out. Her blood pressure in the ER was like 70s over 40s and she was septic. They filled her full of IV Fluids and antibiotics. It was determined that she had Colitis. She was released late Wednesday afternoon. Nothing like being away from family and friends and being in the hospital. She did well. The staff at Christus Santa Rosa is extremely caring. Her new supervisor checked on her three times while she was in the hospital. Not to mention the people she just meant on the unit sending her texts or coming by.

Thursday October 30 was our Wards Trunk-n-Treat/Chili Cook-Off. Dianne came along with me and Brad. Brad was working with other young men running a bean bag toss for the little ones. Dianne did not eat much and was pretty wiped out by the time it was over, but she enjoyed getting out and being seen. I got to eat some Texas Chili. I really enjoyed the flavor and think it only took three Engine Company’s from San Antonio Fire Department to put out the fire in my mouth!!! As I have done for the last 5 or so years I handed out candy and wished the children Merry Christmas. The look on their face is just priceless. This years funny Merry Christmas moment goes to a little girl, maybe 6, who responded to my Merry Christmas with “excuse me sir, it is Halloween!!” The fun I have…..

On Friday the 31st, Halloween, we went to dinner at IHOP. Dianne and I really thought Brad would want to decorate a Scary Face Pancake….he declined. If the waiter gave him a final chance to enjoy one…..Brad was a “little” embarrassed. We then went to Embassy Putt Putt where Dianne and Brad, tying for first, handed my a defeat and forcing me as the loser to buy Ice cream. But before we left, Brad’s future wife sang him a song and posed for a picture with him. Love was in the air…..so were icicles.

Putt Putt 1 Putt Putt 2 Brad and his future wife

Yesterday we visited the Alamo, but you will have to wait until next time to hear about that. I will say this, it is a truly humbling experience……..

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